Incubus, My multicultural love affair
I cannot ignore or begin to pretend that the music, which pours from the fingertips and vocal chords of the band called incubus, does not have quite the affect on me. I had first allowed my presence to be swept away by their hypnotic and at times psychedelic sound when I was twelve years old, before I knew and understood fully the truth of this world. When the first few chords to the song “Drive” landed effortlessly on my eardrums, I remember letting myself go into both the lyrics and the sound of the Brandon Boyd’s voice, Boyd is the lead signer and lyrical composer for the group. I knew then that the music of this band would always be present in my life. After years of flipping through tight or loose denim, jean jackets, airbrushed accessories, over sized hooded sweatshirts, the Warner Brothers network and B2K I found myself hunting for a new sound to fall in love with.
This sound had to match the edge that I had decorated my so-called profound eighteen-year-old soul with, it had to express the thirst I thought I knew I had for life. But this time the search had requirements; I set out to discover rock and roll bands that had black members in them. I started first with the melodies of Thin Lizzy, I then stumbled into the sound waves of TV On the Radio, and then as if a reunion was waiting to take place I found an image of the band Incubus and saw the DJ Chris Kilmore (a Black man rocking a beautiful full head of dreadlocked hair), and the bassist Ben Kenney (Black and former guitar player for the Roots)this photo brought to me a notion of familiarity and this sensation latched itself onto my thought process and I immediately pulled up their music.
The first song I found was “stellar” and as if I had been listening to the song every day since it’s release, I sang the lyrics out loud, I played another song “Pardon me” and those words too fell from my lips the third song I played solved for me the riddle of this band that I had some how had an unconscious love for. When I released the sound of “Drive” on ears that had aged by six years, I found myself trapped in a temporal state of being that transported me back to my twelve-year-old self. I was in a type of time warp somewhere between 1999 and 2007 and all I could do was listen to the lyrics of the song. The song beckons its listeners to not just let life happen to them but rather to actively be apart of their living experience. Having spent a majority of my teenage years disconnected from reality and floating in space of what I will label at this moment as incomplete, this song was what I had desired to listen to.
At that moment I entered my incubus phase, I say phase because for three months solid I listened to barley anything else. I discovered all of the work that they had produced up until 2006, and became addicted to their sound. Every morning when I got up the first thing that was on my mind was I had to hear a rift, a chord, even a drum beat from the band. The song that I deemed my favorite from them was a smooth, mellow hypnotic tune called “Echo.” The very moment when the beat drops in this song, I always have to close my eyes and let every sound enter into by body, this song is amazing.
I realize that I find the band interesting because their sound is quite unique; they mix classic rock and roll elements with sounds of reggae, disk jokey mixing, and oriental and native instrumentation. Boyd who writes the lyrics to the songs also attempts at moments to be political, though I disagree with his liberal leaning politics, I must admit that I appreciate a white person at least admitting that there is something wrong with white domination and control. But the one thing I will say is that is this band knows how to write a love song (civil society love) in fact they know how to write lyrics period. Before their most recent release, If Not now, when, the band would come up with a collection of phrases and adjectives that were strange in their presentation but not only made sense but described perfectly how one was feeling, especially a person in “love”. It is the combination of a “diverse” sound and eclectic lyrics that keeps me a fan of this band.
I have spent the last five years being a conscious Incubus fan, having their music on rotation on my lab top and on mixed cd’s in my car I even had the pleasure of sharing my love for the band with an ex, whom was a lot more hardcore than me. But what I have noticed as I have gotten older, and as my comprehension for life functionalities have changed so has my passions. I enjoy listening to music, but not in the way that I used to and music no longer has the same affects. My previous listening experiences would transport me to a place of sound calmness now I feel as if I am simply a listener and not someone who is actually engaged with the music. I thank two years of heavy afro-pessimist ideology for this new approach to musical appreciation, for it was this philosophy that taught me to be a being present in the world but not of it. I encounter every aspect of my life with a critical and analytical stance, and this position allows me to understand what I am really engaging with.
Now at twenty-two, exactly ten years after hearing the first song that turned my attention toward the group I find that I do still enjoy their work but this time I think it is more for the sense of nostalgia that the band’s music allows me to involve myself with. Ever time I hear Boyd’s voice I am taken back to a point in time where the most complex thing I had to do in my life was attending class.